Two people exploring the world, seeking adventure & unique experiences.
Las Vegas to Albuquerque
We took an overnight Greyhound bus ($90ea) to Albuquerque, New Mexico; taking about 13 hours. Travel is really not cheap in the USA. We had a 6hr drive to our transfer at Flagstaff (South Rim Grand Canyon) at around 2am in the morning. This was meant to be a 45 minute stopover. Sadly, the incoming bus was running about 1.5hrs behind time. So we ended up at the tiny little station for about 2 hours with 17 other people waiting for the same bus.
This bus to Albuquerque was so full that we couldn’t even get a seat together. This is where it became quite clear that crazy people used the Greyhound. The guy sitting on the seat behind Toby had a drum; think of a 60cm high; maybe 20cm diameter drum. He tried saving a seat for it; but was unsuccessful as the bus was full. He used this drum as the secondary bus P.A. system by beating the drum for 20 seconds or so and then proclaiming that the next cigarette stop was coming soon. This was also the colourful man who proclaimed that if he saw anyone touching his bags that words to the effect of you won’t see the daylight of tomorrow.
Breaking Bad in Albuquerque
We stayed at the local Travelodge for $40 a night which was a typical roadside motel. The staff were friendly enough and breakfast was about as basic as it comes.
We had a few reasons for coming here. Firstly it was a good halfway stopping point between Las Vegas and our next stop of El Paso, Texas. Secondly, it was the home to the TV series Breaking Bad. We were actually coming through about 2 weeks before the last ever episode would go to air. This also meant that some of the tours created for the series were solidly booked out over a month in advance.
The back plan was renting a car ($48/day) and doing our own tour of the city. We made use of someone’s saved googlemap to help us plan a route. A lot of the popular places have adopted the show as they realise so many tourists are coming specifically for that reason.
Walt & Skyler’s House. 3828 Piermont Dr NE Albuquerque, NM 87111
Marie and Hank’s house – 4901 Cumbre Del Sur Ct NE, Albuquerque, NM
Octopus Car Wash – 9516 Snow Heights Circle Northeast, Albuquerque, NM 87112
The car wash has several posters around the site to make sure you know you’re in the right spot.
Twisters – 4257 Isleta Boulevard Southwest, Albuquerque, NM 87105
This is actually an Albuquerque chain of Mexican fast food restaurants.
Sandia Peak Tramway
With the sun getting low in the sky, we headed towards the Sandia Peak Tramway. This is located in the North East of the city as is said to be North America’s longest tramway. In summer it’s really just a tourist thing to get up on top of the mountains for a nice view. In winter it is used to get to the ski hill on the back of the hill. It takes around 15 minutes to get to the top (vertical rise of 1,163 metres) and costs $20/pp for the return trip.
We were treated to a colourful sunset as a storm set in close to the city with frequent flashes of lightning. Be warned, it is often cold (near freezing) on top with lots of wind, so bring something warm to wear if you want to watch the sunset.
When in America, you know you’ll come across interesting fast food. Sonic Drive-In caught Toby’s attention and we just had to try it. You pull into a parking bay and use the intercom to order your food. A short time later your food is brought out by someone wearing roller blades for that official American fast food look. The food was decent, but not going to win any foodie awards at $5 per person for a burger type meal.
While we still had the rental car, we spent a morning visiting Santa Fe. It is known as the oldest capital city in the United States. The unique thing in the city is the style of architecture known as Spanish Pueblo Revival. It’s a nice town to just come and walk around for a few hours.
El Paso, Texas
We took an afternoon bus from Albuquerque to El Paso ($21.50 / 4 hours). This would certainly be an odd destination on any itinerary. We had come because Rodora was meeting up with a travel friend from a University trip to Thailand a few years earlier. We were lucky to be offered her house to stay in while we figured out what we could do as a local tourist. It was great to be shown around by a local and feel like a part of the family.
El Paso sits directly across the Mexican border with the particularly dangerous city of Ciudad Juarez. As you can imagine, drugs, human trafficking and all sorts of criminal elements operate in the area. The story seems to be that the cartels control a lot of El Paso and ensure it stays very safe and low crime so that minimal police investment occurs in the area. There are stories of tunnels dug under the border and so on. At some points on the highway you are separated only be a large fence as the highway on the other side runs next to you.
US Border Patrol Muesum
This museum is quite a good way to spend an hour or so as the entry is free (donations accepted). You get to sit in or on a variety of vehicles used to monitor the border o the US. Ranging from cars, helicopters to boats. There are even some examples of crazy contraptions used to get into the USA. Makeshift boats, lethal motorbikes and even a paraglider.
Fort Bliss Museum
This has a large outdoor area with various tanks, missiles and helicopters to get up close with. Inside the museum are more artefacts dating back to World War I. This again is a free thing to do, but check for closures on holidays before making the effort to go.
Oktoberfest – Texas style
We were lucky to be invited to the Fort Bliss Oktoberfest party during our stay. This is a tradition developed because there is a German Air Force unit operating on base, though this was their last year there and was therefore set to be a big celebration.
The lineup to get it started off in grand style with German beer for sale in the hot sun.
We were armed with a genuine porcelain stein and went about filling them and emptying them with beer several times over.
The whole night was a huge amount of fun with great people, fun music and lots of beer and food to enjoy.
This is a tourist spot looking out over El Paso with access by Gondola to reach the peak at 5,632ft/1,715m.
El Paso to Dallas
We took an overnight Tornado bus ($15 / 10 hrs) between the two cities. Perhaps exhaustion kicked in, but this is where Toby left his hiking shoes on the bus as we got off in the morning. Word of warning, if you’re bigger than a US size 11 foot size, you will struggle to find much in any of Central America.
Dallas – The land of Cowboys
We only had a day in Dallas and this would require another rental car to make the most of the time and avoid the hopeless Sunday public transit.
Toby has been a long time Dallas Cowboys fans (American Football) and with the completion of the epic new stadium nick named “Jerry’s World” in 2009 was an extra reason to get to a game. The stadium has a retractable roof and holds 105,000 people. It truly is an engineering masterpiece with an estimated cost of US$1.3 billion.
We bought a pair of tickets online for $60 each. They were high up, but on the side lines with clear views of the enormous HD screen hanging above the field. We saw them play the St Louis Rams and the result was a solid win of 31-7.
This was our last night in the US as the next day we would be flying to Mexico City and our first venture into Latin America.
Plenty more to explore. Keep following the blog and our Flickr account for updates. http://www.flickr.com/photos/toraadventure/